Crowell & Moring is growing its recently created state attorneys general practice with new partner Toni Michelle Jackson, a former deputy attorney general of the public interest for the District of Columbia.
Jackson, who started with the firm on Monday, also will be part of Crowell’s litigation practice and its labor & employment group. She will focus on complex civil litigation, including class actions, internal investigations, and civil rights.
This role fits with her most recent of two stints in the D.C. attorney general’s office, during which she ran the public interest division. Jackson also served six years with the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, from late 2008 through 2015.
Crowell has been busy since early 2020 building out this part of its practice, adding lawyers with direct state AG experience from New Jersey, California, and Missouri, in addition to Washington, D.C. The attorneys in the practice have come from both from outside and inside the firm.
In addition to her government work, Jackson co-founded Jackson & Ward, which according to a statement from Crowell, was the first Black female-owned law firm to open in Minnesota.
She said in an interview that she was excited to be at a much larger firm now.
“My old firm was a two-person shop, and now I’m at a firm with over 600 lawyers,” Jackson said. “I wanted to go to a firm with a national presence, so I can really expand my reach as a litigator.”
In her role as deputy AG of the public interest in D.C. she represented the city in a federal lawsuit filed last December by the Archdiocese of Washington over the city’s coronavirus-related attendance restrictions on houses of worship. That case was settled few days before Christmas, with the District agreeing to relax its attendance limits—but also with D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine asking residents to stay home if possible.
She also launched the civil rights and elder justice sections as deputy AG, working on housing and racial discrimination among other issues. That includes a housing discrimination investigation into Curtis Investment Group, Inc., a large local real estate company that was forced to pay $900,000 to D.C. to resolve the case.
“Toni was an excellent division manager at the Office of the Attorney General, and our loss is Crowell & Moring’s gain,” Racine said in a statement. “Toni was a fierce advocate for District agencies in some of our most complex defensive litigation and for vulnerable District residents in our civil rights and elder financial protection cases.”
‘Very Active’ Enforcement
Crowell created its state attorneys general enforcement and investigations practice in January of 2020, in part to help handle national issues prioritized by enforcers, like the opioid crisis, Crowell Chairman Phil Inglima said during a Bloomberg Law interview Feb. 4.
The practice was launched with the hires of partners Michael Yaghi and former assistant Missouri attorney general Clayton Friedman, who heads the practice, which includes about 20 lawyers. Both were formerly with Sidley Austin, and currently practice in Crowell’s Orange County, Calif., office, located in Irvine, Calif.
Crowell expanded the practice several months later with the addition of Natalie Ludaway, the former chief deputy attorney general for the District of Columbia who was then Jackson’s supervisor. Jackson said the chance for her to work with Ludaway again was another draw.
“All these people provide us this exceptional perspective,” Inglima said of the practice group attorneys in the February interview. “They need to have the regulatory and institutional understanding of how these AG offices function, but also understand in the broader market what’s going to be in the focus for these offices.”
Many firms are shifting their attention to federal enforcement of white collar criminal laws under the Biden administration. Inglima said he expects state attorneys general to continue to aggressively police companies.
“You don’t put the genie back in the bottle,” Inglima said. “Consumer protection-minded state AGs, whether they be Democrat or Republican, are going to be very active over the next few years.”